Daily Archives: May 6, 2012

Desperately seeking a subject – from long ago

And falling back on one of WordPress’s current Plinky prompts: Describe your earliest memory.

This memory’s short, and really pretty early.

Just ahead of me, at my eye level, is a baby girl (I know now she’s a girl because she’s wearing a little ruffly dress, and besides, later I figured out who she was). She’s crawling quickly across a kitchen floor, and I’m following her, crawling too. After a minute or so, she comes to a sort of wooden cliff – it’s chest-high for her – and crawls up this step into the hall beyond. I follow.

Describing the memory like this falsifies it completely. What’s really strange about it is that it comes from a wordless world, a world of images and emotions. I’m not exactly thinking in the memory, but I am feeling: a sort of crazily intense, eager curiosity.

For a number of years, I had no idea where this brief picture came from. Then my grandmother took me along to visit her sister-in-law, my great-aunt Mildred, and I recognized the kitchen with the single, normal-height step up to the hall. Once I knew where I was in the memory, I knew that the baby had to be my cousin, Aunt Mildred’s granddaughter, who’s two months younger than I am.

It’s the briefest glimpse of a memory. But it’s all I have from the months when I was less than a year old. Nothing earlier.